Oil Change, Part 2

“Bridge?” The young man behind the counter stroked his moustached smile. “Sorry miss, you gotta better chance a’ winnin’ a NASCAR race in that sedan a’ yours, then them buildin’ that bridge anytime soon.”

Jen ripped from the blue vinyl rectangle. Compression air wrench bursts from wall behind the counter. She handed the aquamarine check to the young man, as she glanced at his breast. Plain gray sweater. “Isn’t Stephens retiring next year?”

Dismissive shake. Orlando Stephens elected thirty years ago. “Nah. He’ll die in office ‘fore he retires.” The young man put the check in a drawer under the counter, pointed past Jen’s shoulder. “They’re finishing up, pull the car out front in a minute.” Stroke the moustache. “Pretty good chance that’ll happen — no way he loses next year, no way.”

Jen hefted her handbag onto her right shoulder. “Thanks. Isn’t that businessman, Hutchinson, running against him?”

“HA!” Jen heard more accusation than amusement. “If he was gonna do that, he wouldn’t sold that land, where that bridge would go. I know the Hutchinsons, they’re just as happy to stay in that big ol’ house onna hill, count their money. The old man, he don’t wanna get his hands dirty playin’ politics, ‘sides, he knows he ain’t gotta chance ‘gainst Stephens.”

Jen glanced back at the empty lot. Hammer, hammer, compression wrench. “How you know the Hutchinsons?” An open area of gray sweater on his left chest like an empty pool table.

“Daughter. I — ” he blinked — “she’s on the fencing team, at the school.” Point off her left shoulder. Hydraulic lift, descending.


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